16.1.2012 Audi A1 TDI S Line review
Audi's A1 is the most desirable small car on the market to a lot of people and higher than flagged fuel consumption isn't going to put them off. Limousine-style options, including HDD based sat nav with music interface and surround sound audio system, lets buyers 'downsize' in luxury.
Engine could/should be more refined for Audi's premium position in the market place. Some rivals are more dynamically enjoyable and lively to drive. Longer, five-door version, badged Sportback will be first new Audi of 2012.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
A relatively large, 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, for the size of car, delivers 103 bhp at 4,400 rpm and 184 lbs ft of torque from 1,500 rpm. Acceleration is acceptable with 0-62 mph taking 10.5 seconds. Engine has too much diesel rattle at tick-over and is quite vocal when extended so it's best to change up when the gear selector light suggests if not before. Solid build and polite manners mean the A1 is more capable than just a city car and loves motorways. Top speed is 118 mph.
Safe and predictable front-wheel drive under-steer characteristics all the way rather than edgy and adjustable like, say, the brilliant Renault Sport versions of the Clio. Changes direction quick enough though so doesn't feel stodgy. All the controls work and feel as consistent as usual with products from Audi group. Wide tyres look good and deliver lots of grip in the dry but you need to take care in the snow.
The A1 adopts the current single panel grille family 'face' and bright daytime LED running lights of current big Audis. Though based on the same floorpan as the Volkswagen Polo, the A1 feels more grown up somehow and I doubt you would ever know. Forthcoming five-door model will be longer and badged Sportback. Colour options for roof and door pillars can 'disguise' the car's size and shape. Cumulus blue (£200 extra) makes S line models look particularly attractive. In total, the A1 is 3954 mm long and 1740 mm wide.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Big front seats make the A1 as comfy as any Audi but rather cosy if there are two large fellows in the front. Plenty of adjustment of the seat and steering wheel should accommodate all drivers and if you have driven an Audi before you will be at home instantly.
There was a big folding armrest – with a compartment for a mobile phone – between the seats to increase comfort on long journeys but I found the £125 option obstructive most of the time. Optional (£690) Bose stereo added to the car's premium feel. The ride was quite firm in the German way, but I prefer that to soft and wallowing.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Headline fuel consumption figures for the Audi A1 with its 99 g/km emissions are 64 mpg round town and 74 mpg on mixed motoring – which proved farther adrift on real life roads than usual. Despite a rapid response stop-start system I managed 40 to 42 mpg in town and 47 mpg on freer flowing roads outside. Showing why you should walk, cycle or take the bus on short journeys was revealed with just 34.2 mpg on a six-mile commute started with a cold engine. I recorded 402 miles from a full tank before the low fuel warning light came on. With 15 miles left I lost my nerve and refuelled. At least you don't pay road tax and insurance is only group 14. Warranty lasts for three years/60,000 miles.
The usual these days: gear change up indicator, automatic stop-restart in traffic, energy recuperation, highly efficient direct fuel-injected engine, low wind resistance (0.32 CD coefficient of drag) which could save 0.13 gallons when cruising over a distance of 62 miles. The oil pump, piston rings, cylinder barrels and some other components are coated with DLC – a substance known as diamond-like-coating – developed from racing engines to reduce friction and save fuel. The energy recuperation system uses intelligent voltage control for the generator to recover energy during braking and coasting. The energy is stored temporarily in the battery and flows back into the on-board electrical system, relieving the load on the generator and the engine the next time the car accelerates. These features combine to award the tested A1 with a Next Green Car Rating of 30.
Very plush indeed as test car was S line spec (£17,865) with extra kit including £1,375 technology pack (includes satellite navigation), Xenon Plus headlights (£765 but excellent), comfort pack (cruise control, rear parking sensors etc) £605, Bose surround sound stereo (£690) and 18 inch diameter alloy wheels (£410). S line already includes sports suspension, restyled bumpers, side skirts and a roof spoiler, front fog lights, three spoke leather-rimmed steering wheel with audio controls, LED interior light package, Bluetooth telephone interface and front sports seats.
Model tested: Audi A1 TDI 1.6 S line
Body-style: Three door 'supermini'
Engine/CO2: 103bhp 1598cc 4-cylinder turbo diesel/118g/km
Trim grades: SE, Sport, S line and Competition line
On-road price: From £14,480. Test car £22,545
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.5 STARS
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